Shelley E. Kohan

Associate Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology
Shelley E. Kohan has been serving the retail industry for over 30 years working in senior leadership positions across various functions including general management, marketing, operations, merchandising, buying, and human resources. Positions include President Shelmark Consulting, Vice President Retail Consulting RetailNext, Executive Vice President Space NK, Vice President Store Operations Saks Fifth Avenue, Operating Vice President Bloomingdale’s, Director of Logistics Macy’s West, and Regional Director Operations Macy’s West. Kohan is a recognized retail expert appearing in the NBC Nightly News, Fox News, CGTN Global Business News, Wall St. Journal, New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Reuters, Fortune, Chain Store Age, The Robin Report, and other publications. She is a webinar and conference speaker appearing at WWD Digital, WWD 20/20, NRF Big Show,, Future of Stores and RIS Retail Executive Summit. Kohan has been honored as a Top Retail Influencer (2016, 2017, 2018) by Vend University. Kohan teaches as a tenured assistant professor both face-to-face and online classes on topics of retail management, case study method, marketing strategies, leadership development, and fashion business practices. Shelley earned a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from Penn State University, a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and an associate’s degree in Merchandising and Buying from the Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York.
  • Posted on: 06/24/2022

    Is the metaverse opportunity getting any clearer?

    Two significant considerations for the metaverse are currency and decentralization. Retailers need to understand both of these factors. With that said, early movers are able to use the metaverse as a great branding effort, especially to capture Gen Z and Alphas. We are at least a decade away from seamless in the metaverse but the learning curve will not be as steep as moving to online was in the '90s.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2022

    Are retailers and consumers misaligned on trust?

    Consistency and actionable feedback are trust builders for brands. Trust is consistency in EXPECTED service and having products in stock at a price that the target market sees as valuable (not cheap, but the exchange of dollar for the product is of high value). Today's customers want to be heard and want to see action from feedback. Employees want to see companies DO what they say and DO the RIGHT THING. Here is the problem with trust, it takes a long time to build and no time to crumble.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2022

    Does Amazon need a great Prime Day now more than ever?

    No question that Amazon needs to do GREAT for Prime Day this year. With a slowing sales trend, sluggish subscription service revenue compared to last year, and online sales dropping 1 percent for Q1, Prime Day needs to be a winner in sales, profit and new memberships. The most important factor for Amazon is demonstrating to its Prime members the value-add of being a Prime member. Prime Day allows Amazon to gain more subscribers just in time for the holiday season.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2022

    New PetSmart program is all about helping vets help pets

    The PVS is a triple win for PetSmart, the franchisee and the customer. PetSmart is able to provide veterinary services for its customers without having to build out the business internally allowing the trained, certified experts to run the business. The franchisee has a better chance at success given the resources, tools and customer base to build their business in a cost-effective manner. Customers are able to receive services and help small business owners become successful. The only major downside is when the service delivered does not meet the expectations of PetSmart or the customers.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2022

    Walmart and Target report higher sales and lower margins

    There are too many fluctuations in the variables to make strategic decisions based on one or two quarters. Both retailers, like the other behemoth Amazon, are all in this for the long run. For Walmart the fiscal year projections show a 4 percent increase in sales and over the next two quarters, the inventory levels should come back into balance. Walmart has the advantage on operating expenses whereas Target has the advantage on gross margins. Both companies are chasing the global advertising business as a revenue stream to offset other expenses.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2022

    Should retail fear or embrace organized labor’s comeback?

    Happy workers don't unionize. It is that simple.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2022

    What are the hurdles to becoming data-driven?

    Unified commerce is the single most important aspect of driving analytics in companies, especially retailers where data has forever been siloed. The complexity of today's multichannel process including the added areas of social commerce and mobile commerce makes it a challenge to effectively draw insights across structured and non-structured data. The primary impediment for retailers using data-driven decisions is culture -- just like the culture of innovation, there should be a culture of using analytics to drive decisions combined with human guidance and intuition.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2022

    Nike heads to the wholesale exits

    The power of Nike's branding and mass appeal allows the company to move towards a stronger DTC business. Not all companies can go at it alone with fewer retail partners so it is a playbook that should be cautiously copied. The reset of wholesale is simple: have control over product distribution and pricing, build deeper loyalty with strategic partnerships and provide better shopping experiences for the customers. Nike is a pioneer in the space of pivoting from being a wholesale brand to becoming a brand with supremacy -- online, in-stores and in the metaverse. A true immersive experiential brand.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2022

    Lululemon joins the footwear race with new running shoes

    Lululemon's move into the footwear category is bold, yet risky. Footwear production is a more costly endeavor and requires specialized factories and equipment. Additionally, the back-of-house storing requirements based on the number of SKUs to provide a proper assortment are substantial. I am also baffled why Lullulemon did not venture into the shoe business with more of a focus on their core expertise -- yoga footwear. Focusing on women's shoes is great but the running shoe category is filed with incumbents.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2022

    Will Foot Locker be better off long-term with fewer Nike shoes on its shelves?

    Foot Locker should have been more aggressive with making sure it did not rely on one brand for the majority of its sales. The diversified business model and move to become a house of brands should have escalated years ago. With that said, Dick Johnson has the leadership team to pivot and win in the long term. Foot Locker should grow its recommence strategy and broaden its innovator program.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2022

    Glossier seeks to recapture its shine after a tough 2021

    Glossier's impact on beauty has been significant, especially in the initial launching days. However it has experienced internal issues regarding hiring the right leadership team to scale the brand, not focusing on expanding its target market and lacking the understanding that DTC can have its positive factors, but is an expensive and difficult model to sustain long-term. Some external factors that have really impacted the business are the timing of rolling out Glossier Play (not sure this is their fault) and a highly competitive beauty landscape. The last point to make is that consumers shop beauty by product type and not by brand; very few consumers use ALL of the same branded beauty products. Just look in any make-up bag and you will see an assortment of brands. Mono-beauty brands have a tougher time retaining customers over time, especially with a limited assortment of products. Glossier should go back to its roots and focus on social commerce and m-commerce/e-commerce, building a brand community, figuring out how to make DTC work and partnering with other retailers to expand the market. Before all of that, however, the CEO needs to fix the culture, pronto.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2022

    Walmart customers can add a handyman to their purchases

    Walmart's providing in-home services allows it to provide convenience to its customer base while also staying competitive. The association with Angi, which has a strong reputation, will broaden the reach for both companies. Customers that use Angi may never have considered shopping at Walmart but now they might. Walmart customers that may have gone elsewhere to purchase products that come with the installation may give Angi's a try with its significantly broad reach. Handy had about 500,000 customers whereas Angi's has over 5 million. The downside is, as with all partners, if the service fails to meet the customer expectations.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2022

    Will 2022 be the year of text-to-shop?

    Investing in text-to-shop would make sense for many retailers and brands. With Gen Z and Gen Alpha who live by text, it will be an easy transition for them to make and, in fact, younger generations may expect text-to-shop evolution from their favorite brands. Potential disadvantages are managing the execution at scale, inventory visibility across yet another platform, and data security of consumer information. Chatbots used for customer service issues via text have really worked well for some companies like Bed, Bath & Beyond so the consumer is ready for this next dive into text-to-shop.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2022

    The Container Store’s new acquisition is upscale and ‘Made in the USA’

    The linear supply chain model is in need of great repair. Supply UNchainED should be how retailers are looking at their supply networks or ecosystems. A part of this would be looking at various aspects of sourcing to minimize future disruptions including near-sourcing. The key is building agility and flexibility into supply networks from sourcing raw materials to allocation and distribution of products. The addition of Closet Works to The Container Store is a brilliant move as the ethos of both companies are aligned. There is also a move towards American Made in the U.S. markets which bodes well for this acquisition. The Container Store has not strayed from its core mission, and acquiring Closet Works further demonstrates its goal of providing order to an increasingly busy and chaotic world.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2021

    Frontline workers say management isn’t listening to them

    The competition among employers is gaining steam with many retailers trying to become employers of choice. The power of employment is shifting from the employer to the employee. Workers are demanding more from employers including making their own shifts, working from where they want, asking for more pay -- and they are getting these things right now. This may also be the rise of union power in the U.S. market as employees are feeling more confident and courageous to “go up against management” and unionize for better pay, benefits, etc. So retailers NEED to listen up to workers and allow employees to be heard and actively part of the solutions for workplace issues. Open door policies, using apps to collect employee feedback, roundtables (virtual and face-to-face) and being on the front lines to hear from workers will also create open communication lines. A key point for this multigenerational workforce is to REDUCE THE STATUS DIFFERENCE between management and workers.

Contact Shelley E.


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